Party Review - ‘Unió’: “Catalanism doesn’t mean supporting independence”

Christian-Democrat Unió, the smaller party within the former governing coalition CiU, claims to be the alternative to the extreme positions that “have taken over Catalan politics”. “We regret that this campaign has been based on two extreme positions: the status quo and a breakaway” stated Unió’s Secretary General and now candidate for President in the upcoming 27-S elections, Ramon Espadaler. “We believe there’s a central position and that is reforming Spain’s Constitution” he said at a press conference at CNA headquarters. Unió’s differences with liberal party CDC regarding Catalonia’s push for independence caused the definitive separation of CiU after a 37-year alliance. “Now the party has its own voice” he emphasised. 

'Unió's candidate Ramon Espadaler, at a press conference at CNA headquarters (by ACN)
'Unió's candidate Ramon Espadaler, at a press conference at CNA headquarters (by ACN) / ACN / Sara Prim

ACN / Sara Prim

September 25, 2015 02:51 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- After a 37-year alliance, Christian-Democrat Unió, the smaller party within former governing coalition CiU, “has its own voice”. Secretary General and candidate for President in the upcoming 27-S elections, Ramon Espadaler is convinced that they will be present in the next Catalan Parliament, “even though we have only been on our own for three months” he stated. Unió split from CDC due to their different positions regarding Catalonia’s independence. “We don’t want a breakaway” stated Espadaler “we bid to have our say in Madrid and improve our situation, with greater powers in the economic field but also concerning our culture, language and education system”.  

“This campaign has been, as we expected, a war of flags” stated Unió candidate Ramon Espadaler, referring to the debate on Catalonia’s independence. “We miss more proposals and less protests” he emphasised “our citizens are worried about their jobs and the social tension that this battle of flags has caused”. “Our only flag is prudence, the Senyera [Catalan flag] of sense” he stated. Unió’s position regarding Catalonia’s push for independence has evolved from an ambiguous position, before they left the CiU, to a clearer one. “Catalanism doesn’t mean supporting independence”, outlined Espadaler. “There’s space for everybody”, he stated referring to a reform of Spain’s Constitution “some things need to be changed, but always from central positions and with dialogue”.

“Catalanism doesn’t mean supporting independence”

“We don’t want a breakaway” stated Espadaler at his press conference held at CNA headquarters, just hours before Election Day. “We are Catalanist and we represent centrality, the space between the status quo and a breakaway” he stated. “Both positions are extreme and both would lead us to disaster”. “This is not a joke” he stated, harking back to PP candidate Xavier García Albiol’s statement referring to Catalonia’s push for independence. “We don’t have to turn the page either” he added, referring to anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans’s position. However, Espadaler criticised pro-independence forces as well. “We say to pro-independence parties that independence is not the way” and emphasise that “a political answer is required, and it has to be based on dialogue. It is the only solution”.

The day after the elections

When asked about his forecast for the 27-S elections, Espadaler admitted that pro-independence unitary list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ “will win for sure”. “Their voters are motivated and visibly mobilised; we could see that at the massive rally on Catalonia’s National Day” he stated. However, he admitted to be “worried” about their future agreements. “I don’t think ‘Junts Pel Sí’ will obtain an absolute majority and we are worried that they would need to reach agreements with pro-independence radical left-wing CUP” he said. Espadaler also emphasised that they will be keen on talking and undertaking dialogue with all the parties after the 27-S “with joint efforts on the common points”. Nevertheless, he emphasised that they “won’t support President Mas if he wants to carry out a Unilateral Declaration of Independence”.

Unió is also optimistic regarding their results. “We will be in the Catalan Parliament: we are a party founded in 1931 who is running in these elections on its own for the first time ever”. According to Espadaler, Unió represents “the dialogue, the will to change things from within Spain and within the EU” and is also “a guarantee of political and legal stability”.

Reforming Catalonia from within Spain

“We are based on proposals rather than flags” he stated “and our proposal is to have our own voice in Madrid”. “We are an ancient nation, and we have to be recognised in the Constitution as such”. Espadaler defended their will for dialogue with Spain but admitted that the situation “can’t be the same anymore” as it has proved to be “disastrous for Catalonia’s interests”. Unió calls for a reform of Spain’s Constitution that would improve “Catalonia’s funding” but also guarantee that its singularities, such as its language, culture and education system, “are respected”.

Catalonia, Spain and the EU

“Our proposal is absolutely Europeanist” emphasised Espadaler “remaining within Spain and therefore in the EU is fundamental”. When asked if Catalonia would be banned from the EU in the event of independence, Espadaler warned “Unió will never do anything that could leave Catalonia outside of the EU, not even for five minutes”. Espadaler recalled that Catalonia and Spain have always played a key role in the EU and emphasised that Unió comes from the Christian Democrat branch, which has proven to have a strong European tradition.